TORONTO – The federal government needs to ramp up the fight against American tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and target support to Canadians operations struggling through the trade war, says a union representing 14,000 forestry industry workers.
USW National Director Ken Neumann says that while forestry workers welcome yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. will reduce tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber from 20 per cent to nine per cent, the Canadian government must redouble efforts to ensure Canadian workers’ product can get tariff-free access to U.S. builders.
In August, the World Trade Organization ruled against U.S. tariffs placed on Canadian softwood lumber. But rather that end tariffs, the U.S. yesterday choose to reduce as it announced an appeal of the decision. The United States is also withholding approval of WTO appellate appointees, causing long delays in WTO appeal hearings.
Neumann called the softwood situation “the unfinished business” of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement that needs to be addressed if Canada is to maintain a health forestry industry. The union says 600 communities’ economies are dependent on the paycheques of forestry workers.
The USW’s Wood Council chairperson Jeff Bromley says U.S. tariffs introduced in 2017 have already cost thousands of jobs and have reduced exports by more than 6.7 million board feet.
Neumann says that to maintain the industry while fight the tariffs, the Canadian government should offset 75 per cent of the amount companies are paying to access the U.S. market. He said such assistance would need to be structured so multinational forestry companies are be blocked from transferring Canadian help to foreign operations.